LPG consumers taken for a ride

Charging more than the billed amount is against the rules

Lakshmi S, a resident of Sunnadakeri in the city, had placed an order for an LPG cylinder during the first week of March. When the cylinder arrived a few days later, she was asked to pay Rs 650 for the cylinder, which cost only Rs 617 in the bill.

Unaware that there are no extra charges apart from the ones mentioned in the bill, she paid Rs 650. Her house is located around half a kilometre from the agency.

Similar situation was faced by Mahesh Kumar, a resident of Sharadadevinagar. The delivery boy sought Rs 650 for the cylinder. The agency was about two kilometres from his residence.

“Despite pointing out that the bill mentioned only Rs 617, he said that the charges were for delivery. After bargaining for a while, I decided to pay Rs 640 and took the cylinder,” Mahesh said. Such problems, where consumers are being forced to pay more than the amount billed is being faced by several persons in the city.

LPG agencies though  blame delivery persons, a majority of whom are contract employees with the agencies. Department of Food and Civil Supplies officials say that such demands by delivery boys were offences and they could be penalised if the matter is brought to the notice of the department.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Mehul Patel of Amardeep Gas Agency said that LPG consumers need not pay a rupee more than the amount printed in the bill.

“There have been quite a few complaints regarding the same. Following this, several agencies in the city have printed specific instructions in the bill, against paying more. It is not the delivery charge. If consumers want to tip the delivery boys for the service, there is nothing wrong in it.

However, such tips cannot be demanded in the pretext of delivery fees,” he said. They are also supposed to check the weight of the cylinder and look for possible leaks during delivery.

Such guidelines are also being ignored. Consumers should demand these services from delivery boys, he added.

In case of such demands, consumers can call the office of the LPG agency and 90 per cent of the cases are resolved immediately, he said.

When contacted, Senior Deputy Director of Food and Civil Supplies, K Rameshwarappa said that such demands were in violation with Sec (3), (5), (7) of Essential Commodities Act, 1955. There is also LPG control order, 2000, which prohibits charging consumers more than the billed amount, he said.

He said that agencies were supposed to provide free delivery for houses which are within five kilometers of the agency and could charge Rs 1.6 per kilometre, if the distance exceeds five kilometers. “That too has to be mentioned in the bill,” he noted.

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